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Elegy On The Death Of Scots Music*

On Scotia's plains, in days of yore,
When lads and lasses tartan wore,
Salt music rang on ilka' shore,

In namely weid;-
But harmony is now no more,

And music dead.

Round her the feathered choir would wing,

Sae bonnily she wont to sing,

And sleely3 wake the sleeping string,

Their sang to lead, Sweet as the zephyrs o' the spring;

But now she's dead.

Mourn, ilka nymph and ilka swain,

Ilk sunny hill and dowie4 glen;

Let weeping Btreams and Naiads drain

Their fountain head; Let Echo swell the dolefu' strain,

Sin' music's dead.

Whan the saft vernal breezes ca' The grey-haired winter's fogs awa', Naebody than is heard to blaw,

Near hill or mead, On chaunters or on aiten straw,«

Sin' music's dead.

Nae lasses now, on simmer days,
Will lilt' at bleaching o' their elaes;
Nae herds8 on Yarrow's bonny braes.o

Or banks o' Tweed, Delight to chaunt their hameil10 lays,

Sin' music's dead.

At glomin now the bagpipe's dumb,
Whan weary ovvsen'i hameward come;

1 every « oaten reed

2 homely garb t sing cheerily a skillfully » shepherds

4 gloomy 0 slopes

s finger-pipe (of a bag- 10 homely pipe) ii oxen

• Native Scottish music and poetry were for a long time eclipsed by the popularity of English and foreign modes. Rut they never died out completely: and at the very time when Kergusson wrote his lament {about 1773) they were experiencing a revival which reached Its culmination some fifteen years later in the poems and songs of Burns.

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Macgibbon'si« gane: Ah! wae's my heartl
The man in music maist expert,
Wha cou'd sweet melody impart,

And tune the reed,
Wi' sic a slee and pawkyi* art;

But now he's dead.


Ilk carlineis now may grunt and grane,
Ilk bonny lassie make great mane;
Sin' he's awa, I trow there's nane

Can fill his stead;
The blythest sangster on the plain,

Alack, is dcadl


Now foreign sonnets bear the gree,i8

And crabbit^o queer variety

O' sounds fresh sprung frae Italy,

A bastard breed! Unlike that saft-tongued melody

Whilk-'i now lies dead.


Cou'd lav'rocks22 at the dawning day,
Cou'd Unties chirming" frae the spray,
Or todling burns-'4 that smoothly play

O'er gpwden25 bed,
Compare wi' Birks of Invermayfz*

But now they're dead.


O Scotland! that cou'd yenee" afford
To bang the pith28 o' Roman sword,
Winna your sons, wi' joint accord,

To battle speed,
And fight till Music be restor'd,

Whilk now lies dead!

Auld Robin Gray

When the sheep are in the fauld, and the kye at hame,

And a' the warld to rest are gane,

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The w aes o' my heart fa' in showers frae my e'c,

While my gudeman lies sound by inc.


Young Jamie lo'ed me weel, and sought me for his bride;

But saving a croun he had naething else beside; To make the croun a pund, young Jamie gaed to sea;

And the croun and the pund were baith for me. 3

He hadna been awa' a week but only twa, When my father brak his arm, and the cow was

stown^o awa'; My mother she fell sick,—and my Jamie at the


And auld Robin Gray came a-courtin' me. 4

My father couldna work, and my mother

couldna spin; I toiled day and night, but their bread 1

couldna win; Auld Rob maintained them baith, and wi'

tears in his e'e Said, ''Jennie, for their sakes, 0, marry me!"


My heart it said nay; I looked for Jamie back; But the wind it blew high, and the ship it was a wrack;

His ship it was a wrack—why didna Jamie dee? Or why do I live to cry, Wae's me!


My father urged me sair: my mother didna ■peak;

But she looked in my face till my heart was

like to break: They gi'ed him my hand, tho' my heart was in

the sea;

Sae auld Robin Gray he was gudeman to me. 7

I hadna been a wife a week but only four. When mournfu' as I sat on the stane at the


I saw my Jamie's wraith,—for I couldna think it be,

Till he said, "I'm come hame to marry thee.'' 8

O sair, sair did we greet,30 and mickle'i say of a';

We took but ae kiss, and I bade him gang awa';

an stolen si much (or possibly

soery "little")

1 wish that 1 wore dead, but I'm no like to dee;

And why was I born to say, Wae's me!

I gang like a ghaist, and 1 earena to spin;
I daurna think on Jamie, for that wad be a sin;
But I '11 do my best a gude wife aye to be,
For auld Robin Gray he is kind unto me.

1SOBEL PAGAN (d. 1821)


As I gaed down the water side,
There I met my shepherd lad,
He rowed' me sweetly in his plaid,
And lie ca'd me his dearie.

Ca' the yowes2 to thr Inowes,3
Ca' them where the heather grows,
Ca' them where the burnie rows,*
My bonnie dearie.

'' Will ye gang down the water side,
And see the waves sae sweetly glide
Beneath the hazels spreading wide!
The moon it shines fu' clearly."

Ca' the yowes, etc.


"I was bred up at nae sic school,
My shepherd lad, to play the fool;
And a' the day to sit in dool,"
And naebody to see me.''


"Ye shall get gowns and ribbons meet,
Cauf-leather slioon upon your feet,
And in my arms ye'se0 lie and sleep,
And ye shall be my dearie."


"If ye'11 but stand to what ye've said,
I'so gang wi' you, my shepherd lad;
And ye may row me in your plaid,
And 1 shall be your dearie.''


"While waters wimple to the sea.
While day blinks in the lift7 sae hie.
Till clay-eauld death shall Win' my e'e,
Ye aye shall be my dearie."

1 rolled 5 sorrow

2 ewes • ye shall

3 knolls ?sky * brook flows

LADY NAIRNE (17(56—1845)
The Land O' The Leal

I'm wearin' nwa', John,

Like snaw-wreaths in thaw, John,

1 'm wearin' awa'

To the land o' the leal."
There's nae sorrow there, John,
There's neither cauld nor care, John,
The day is aye fair

In the land o' the leal.


Our bonnie bairn's there, John,
She was baith gude and fair, John;
And oh! we grudged her sair

To the land o' the leal.
But sorrow's sel' wears past, John,
And joy's a-coming fast, John,
The joy that's aye to last

In the land o' the leal.


Sae dear that joy was bought, John,
Sae free the battle fought, John,
That sinfu' man e'er brought

To the land o' the leal.
Oh, dry your glistening e'e, John!
My saul langs to be free, John,
And angels beckon me

To the land o' the leal.


Oh, haud" ye leal and true, John!
Your day it's wearin' through, John,
And I '11 welcome you

To the land o' the leal.
Now fare-ye-weel, my ain John,
This warld's cares are vain, John,
We'll meet, and we'll be fain,i°

In the land o' the leal.

ROBERT BURNS (1759-1796)



Let not Ambition mock their useful toil.
Their homely Joys, and destiny obscure;

Nor Grandeur hear, with a disdainful smile,
The short and simple annals of the poor.



My lov'd, my honour'd, much respected friend!
No mercenary bard his homage pays;
With honest pride, I scorn each selfish end,

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My dearest meed, a friend's esteem and praise ;t
To you I sing, in simple Scottish lays,
The lowly train in life's sequester'd scene,
The native feelings strong, the guileless ways,
What Aiken in a cottage would have been;
Ah! tho' his worth unknown, far happier
there, I ween!


November chill blaws loud wi' angry sugh;1
The short'ning winter day is near a close;
The miry beasts retreating frae the pleugh;
The black 'ning trains o' craws to their repose:
The toil-worn Cotter2 frae his labour goes,—
This night his weekly moil3 is at an end,—
Collects his spades, his mattocks, and his hoes,
Hoping the morn in ease and rest to spend,
And weary, o'er the moor, his course does
hameward bend.


At length his lonely cot appears in view,
Beneath the shelter of an aged tree;
Th' expectant wee-things, toddlin, stachcr*

To meet their dad, wi' flichterins noise an' glee.

His wee bit ingle,8 blinkin bonilie,
His clean hearth-stane, his thrifty wine's smile,
The lisping infant prattling on his knee,
Does a' his weary kiaugh7 and care beguile,
An' makes him quite forget his labour an'
his toil.


Belyve,' the elder bairns come drappin in,
At service out, amang the farmers roun';
Some ea'9 the pleugh, some herd, some tentie10


2 cottager

3 labor
i stagger
s fluttering

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•Of tliis porm. Cllbert Burns. Robert's brother, writes: "Robert had frequently remarked to

me that be thought there was something peculiarly venerable in the phrase, 'Let us worship God,' used by a decent, sober head of a family, introducing family worship. To this sentiment of the author, the world Is indebted for The Cotter** Saturday Mght. The cotter Is an exact copy of my father, in his manners, bis family devotion, and exhortations; yet the other parts of the description do not apply to our family. None of us were "at service out among the farmers riiun". Instead of oar depositing our 'sairwon penny-fee" with our parents, my father laboured hard, and lived with the most rigid economy, that he might be able to keep his children at home." Mr. J. L. Robertson, commenting on the fact that more than half the poem Is In English, says: "An unusually elevated or serious train of thought In the mind of a Scottish peasant seems to demand for Its expression the use of a speech which one may describe as Sabbath Scotch." t Aiken was not only a patron, but a genuine friend, of Hums.

A cannie11 errand to a ncibor town:
Their eldest hope, their Jenny, woman-grown,
In youthfu' bloom, love sparkling in her e'e,
Cornea name, perhaps to shew a brawl* new

Or deposits her sair-won penny-fee,

To help her parents dear, if they in hardship be.


With joy unfeign'd, brothers and sisters meet,
And each for other's weelfare kindly spiers:13
The social hours, swift-wing M, unnotie'd fleet;
Each tells the uncos'* that he sees or hears.
The parents, partial, eye their hopeful years;
Anticipation forward points the view;
The mother, wi' her needle an' her sheers,
Gars11' auld claes look amaist as wcel's the

The father mixes a' wi' admonition due.

Their master's an' their mistress's command
The younkers a' are warned to obey;
An' mind their labours wi' an eydentm hand,
An' ne'er, tho' out o' sight, to jauk or play;
"An' O! be sure to fear the Lord alway,
An' mind your duty, duly, morn an' night;
Lest in temptation's path ye gang astray,
Implore His counsel and assisting might:
They never sought in vain that sought the
Lord aright!''


But hark! a rap comes gently to the door;
Jenny, wha kens the meaning o' the same,
Tells how a neibor lad cam o 'cr the moor,
To do some errands, and convoy her hame.
The wily mother sees the conscious flame
Sparkle in Jenny's e'e, and flush her cheek;
Wi' heart-struck, anxious care, inquires his

While Jenny hafflins11 is afraid to speak; Wcel pleas'd the mother hears it's nae wild worthless rake.


Wi' kindly welcome Jenny brings him ben,18
A strappin youth; he takes the mother's eye;
Blythe Jenny sees the visit's no ill taen;
The father cracks'" of horses, pleughs, and kyc.
The youngster's artless heart o 'erflows wi' joy.
But blate=° and laithfu',-1 scarce can weel

The mother, wi' a woman's wiles, can spy

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What makes the youth sae bashfu' and sae grave,

Weel-pleas'd to think her bairn's respected like the lave.22


O happy love! where love like this is found!
O heart-felt raptures! bliss beyond compare!
I've paced much this weary, mortal round,
And sage experience bids me this declare,—
"If Heaven a draught of heavenly pleasure

One cordial in this melancholy vale,
'Tis when a youthful, loving, modest pair
In other's arms breathe out the tender tale,
Beneath the milk-white thorn that scents the
ev'ning gale."


Is there, in human form, that bears a heart,
A wretch! a villain! lost to love and truth!
That can, with studied, sly, ensnaring art,
Betray sweet Jenny's unsuspecting youth?
Curse on his perjur'd arts! dissembling smooth!
Are honour, virtue, conscience, all exil'dt
Is there no pity, no relenting rnth,
Points to the parents fondling o'er their child;
Then paints the ruin'd maid, and their dis-
traction wild?


But now the supper crowns their simple board, The halesome parritch, chief of Scotia's food; The sowpei their only hawkie2 does afford, That yont3 the hallau* snugly chows her cood: The dame brings forth, in complimental mood, To grace the lad, her weel-hain'd kcbbuek,5 fell;*

An' aft he's prest, an' aft he ca's it guid: The frugal wifie, garrulous, will tell

How 'twas a towmond auld, sin' lint was i' the bell.T


The cheerfu' supper done, wi' serious face,
They round the ingle form a circle wide;
The sire turns o'er, with patriarchal grace
The big ha'8 Bible, ance his father's pride:
His bonnet rev'rently is laid aside,
His lyart haffets<> wearing thin and bare;
Those strains that once did sweet in Zion glide.
He wales10 a portion with judicious care;

22 rest

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And "Let us worship God!" he says with solemn air.


They chant their artless notes in simple guise,
They tune their hearts, by far the noblest aim;
Perhaps 'Dundee'»' wild-warbling measures

Or plaintive 'Martyrs,' worthy of the name;
Or noble 'Elgin' beets'1 the heaven-ward flame,
The sweetest far of Scotia's holy lays:
Compar'd with these, Italian trills are tame:
The tickl'd ears no heart-felt raptures raise;
Nae unison hae they with our Creator's


The priest-like father reads the sacred page,
How Abram was the friend of God on high;
Or Moses bade eternal warfare wage
With Amalek's ungracious progeny;
Or how the royal bard*2 did groaning lie
Beneath the stroke of Heaven's avenging ire;
Or Job's pathetic plaint, and wailing cry;
Or rapt Isaiah's wild, seraphic fire;

Or other holy seers that tune the sacred lyre.


Perhaps the Christian volume is the theme,
How guiltless blood for guilty man was shed;
How He, who bore in Heav 'n the second name,
Had not on earth whereon to lay His head:
How His first followers and servants sped;
The precepts sage they wrote to many a land:
How he,13 who lone in Patmos banished,
Saw in the sun a mighty angel stand,

And heard great Bab'Ion's doom pronoune'd by Heav'n's command.


Then kneeling down to Heaven's Eternal King.
The saint, the father, and the husband prays:
Hope '' springs exult ing on triumphant wing,'
That thus they all shall meet in future days,
There ever bask in uncreated rays,
No more to sigh, or shed the bitter tear,
Together hymning their Creator's praise,
In such society, yet still more dear,

While circling Time moves round in an eter-
nal sphere.


Compar'd with this, how poor Religion's pride
In all the pomp of method and of art,
When men display to congregations wide
Devotion's ev'ry grace, except the heart!

n adds fuel to, fans 14 Pope, ll'/nrfsor For

12 David eat, 112.

13 John

The Pow 'r, incens'd, the pageant will desert,
The pompous strain, the sacerdotal stole;
But haply, in some cottage far apart,
May hear, well-pleas'd, the language of the

And in His Book of Life the inmates poor enrol.


Then homeward all take off their scv 'ral way;
The youngling cottagers retire to rest;
The parent-pair their secret homage pay,
And proffer up to Heav'n the warm request,
That He who stills the raven's clam 'rous nest,
And decks the lily fair in flow'ry pride,
Would, in the way His wisdom sees the best,
For them and for their little ones provide;
But chiefly, in their hearts with grace divine


I'nun scenes like these old Scotia's grandeur springs,

That makes her lov'd at home, rever'd abroad: Princes and lords are but the breath of kings, "An honest man's the noblest work of God;""

And certes, in fair Virtue's heavenly road, The cottage leaves the palace far behind; What is a lordling's pomp? a cumbrous load, Disguising oft the wretch of human kind, Studied in arts of hell, in wickedness rcfin'd!

. 20

O Scotia! my dear, my native soil!
For whom my warmest wish to Heaven is sent,
Long may thy hardy sons of rustic toil
Be blest with health, and peace, and sweet con-

And oh! may Heaven their simple lives prevent
From luxury's contagion, weak and vile!
Then, howe'er crowns and coronets be rent,
A virtuous populace may rise the while,

And stand a wall of fire around their muchlov'd isle.


0 Thou! who pour'd the patriotic tide That stream'd thro' Wallace's undaunted heart, Who dar'd to nobly stem tyrannic pride, Or nobly die, the second glorious part,— (The patriot's God peculiarly thou art, His friend, inspircr, guardian, and reward!) O never, never Scotia's realm desert, But still the patriot, and the patriot-bard, in bright succession raise, her ornament and guard!

is Pope, Easat) on Man, lv, 248.

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